BDNF, hyperlexia, hypergraphia, seizures…


Just some loosely connected neuro-things I wanted to save somewhere.

  • Notably without citation, Wikipedia claims BDNF is also expressed in the retina, the central nervous system, motor neurons, the kidneys, and the prostate (aside from just the hippocampus and cerebral cortex). (via.)
  • BDNF knockingout in mice affects coordination, balance, hearing, taste, and breathing. “Knockout mice also exhibit cerebellar abnormalities and an increase in the number of sympathetic neurons.” (via.)
  • BDNF is increased by prolonged seizures, and important to GABA pathways. (via.)
  • Hypergraphia, a condition which afflicts individuals with a compulsive desire to write, is associated with temporal lobe epilepsy… and quite a few interesting characters have had it. (via.)
  • Hyperlexia, the extreme variety of a compulsion to read, may be caused by a “cerebral infarction in the left anterior cingulate cortex and corpus callosum.” (via.)
  • Temporal lobe epileptics are often hyposexual. (via.)

Prophet Ezekiel & Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


After watching Robert Sapolsky’s video on religion I decided to do some reading up on temporal lobe epilepsy and hypergraphia… I ran across this:

THE Bible may contain the oldest recorded case of temporal lobe epilepsy. Ezekiel, the prophet whose visions are recorded in a book of the Old Testament, apparently had all the classic signs of the condition. [...]

People with the disease experience partial seizures, often accompanied by a dreamy feeling that things are not quite as they should be. Patients are often misdiagnosed with psychiatric problems. Neurologically, Ezekiel displayed some obvious signs of epilepsy, such as frequent fainting spells and episodes of not being able to speak.

The Biblical figure, who chronicled the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC, exhibited other peculiarities associated with the disease. For instance, he wrote compulsively, a trait known as hypergraphia. Altschuler points out that the Book of Ezekiel is the fourth longest in the Bible-only slightly shorter than Genesis. “It’s impenetrable,” he says. “He goes on and on.”

Ezekiel was also extremely religious, another characteristic associated with this form of epilepsy. While many Biblical figures are pious, none was as aggressively religious as Ezekiel, says Altschuler. (via.)